Over the past two decades there has been a high uptake in the use of high-silica content engineered stone products and this, combined with increased exposures in other industries, has resulted in a dramatic increase in the numbers of people diagnosed with lung and other pathologies (such as silicosis and lung cancer) due to exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS).
As there is no cure for silicosis, a significant subset of people will be plagued by deteriorating health and an untimely death.
Silica is naturally occurring and therefore present in many construction and building materials. The relevant industries include mining, tunnelling, construction, demolition, quarrying and manufacturing of silica powder.
The increase in cases of silicosis clearly demonstrates the lack of awareness and failure to effectively control harmful exposures to RCS.
As experts in health, disease prevention, and occupational health and safety, we believe that it is essential that governments and employers adopt policies and programs to systematically control exposure to RCS, including implementing a ban on the use of high-content silica engineered stone products.
In addition, we urge Work Health and Safety Ministers to introduce the following: